All the Light We Cannot See is a 2014 war novel written by American author Anthony Doerr. Set in World War II, the novel centers on two characters: Marie-Laure Leblanc, a blind French girl who takes refuge in her uncle’s house in Saint-Malo after Paris is stormed by Nazi Germany, and Werner Pfennig, a bright German boy who gets accepted into a military school because of his skills in radio technology before being sent to the military. The novel is written in a poetic style and switches between Marie-Laure’s story and Werner’s story in almost every chapter, both of which parallel each other. The narrative has a nonlinear structure, flashing between the Battle of Saint-Malo and the events leading up to it. The story has themes of morality such as the dangers of possession and the nature of sacrifice. It also portrays a fascination with science and nature.
Doerr’s first inspiration came from a 2004 train ride, in which he witnessed a man getting angry over his phone call cutting out. Doerr felt that the man was unappreciative of the “miracle” of being able to communicate across long distances. He decided to set the novel in World War II with a focus on the Battle of Saint-Malo after a book trip to Saint-Malo in 2005. The novel was published by Scribner on May 6, 2014, to commercial and critical success. It was on the New York Times Best Seller list for over 200 weeks and ultimately reached over 15 million sales. It was considered by several publications to be among the best books of 2014 and has won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and 2015, Andrew Carnegie Medal, for Excellence in Fiction. A television adaptation produced by Netflix and 21 Laps Entertainment was announced in 2019.